Sometimes “Less Wrong” Is Your Best Option When Dealing With A Narcissist

When dealing with a narcissistic parent, often there are no right answers, only “less wrong” ones.  This is because narcissists are masters of creating a situation where you can’t win no matter what you do, but they will win.   One example in my life that comes to mind is if I don’t answer the phone when my parents call, they will either call back repeatedly until I do answer, attempt to make me feel guilty for not answering the next time we speak or manipulatively demand to know where I was that I couldn’t answer the phone.  I am left with some poor choices here:  answer the phone & deal with whatever games they are playing at the time, or don’t answer the phone & later deal with guilt trips (which don’t work, but really tick me off!) or their anger & especially nasty treatment because I didn’t bend to their wishes by not answering when they called the first time.  Not nice choices!  So, often times I answer the phone, even when I don’t want to, because it’s the lesser of the evils.  While the phone is ringing though, I am weighing my choices & deciding what I can & can’t handle before I pick it up.

It’s frustrating, but this is often the position you are forced into.  And, equally frustrating is others who don’t understand the situation, tell you what you’re doing is wrong & firmly believe you need to hear their opinions on the matter.  I don’t think most people are aware of how incredibly frustrating it is to be forced into these no win situations with a narcissistic parent.  They just see that you are doing something wrong, & that you should do something else, without realizing that their solution would have even more disastrous results than yours does.  They don’t grasp that you are doing what you are doing because it is going to create slightly less disastrous results than what they think you should do.  Or, if they know about narcissism, they may say you’re giving the narcissist that narcissistic supply they crave so desperately, which is why what you’re doing is wrong.  They aren’t seeing that while yes, sometimes you do give that supply, it’s better to give only a small amount of it than a ton of it.  The times when I do take my parents’ calls?  It seems to give them less supply than when they treat me poorly for not answering the phone right away.  Those times after they’ve given me sufficient grief, they seem happier & lighter by the time they hang up the phone.  I feel like I have chosen the lesser of the two evils when I take their calls immediately.

However you choose to handle situations with your narcissistic parents, choose wisely.  Sometimes your best answer isn’t going to be good or even right, but only less wrong.  Unfortunately that is normal.  Don’t listen blindly to the advice of others- listen to what they say & see if it would make sense  in your situation.  Hopefully others will give you a new & helpful solution, but sometimes they don’t, which is why you must consider carefully what they said. After all, no one knows your specific situation better than you do.  Just make sure you pray about what to do & weigh your options.  Do what you feel is right (well, less wrong) in your heart, & you will be doing the best thing you can do in your particular situation.  And, don’t forget to take care of yourself too.  If you end up frustrated, hurt or angry, vent your feelings in a healthy way.  Be good to yourself, too- dealing with a narcissist, especially a narcissistic parent, is very trying.  You need plenty of self-compassion & self-care after having dealt with a narcissistic parent.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

4 responses to “Sometimes “Less Wrong” Is Your Best Option When Dealing With A Narcissist

  1. Kelly

    I can’t tell you how many times I see my NM’s # come up on the phone or the TV screen and I have to decide within those few rings what state of mind I’m in to take or refuse the call. I agree that taking the call more often causes less grievance. However, recently my NM and I were getting along great for several months and apparently she was in need of severe narc supply and just berated me on the phone for a good half hour. Of course it was over something that was so minor but turned into something so ugly that I was drained for weeks after and have not really talked to since and she can’t seem to understand why. I will never get that. Why is okay to be thinking they are just and right and able to point out how we have failed them yet if we do the same, I’m accused of being too sensitive or I’m making a big deal out of nothing. How invalidating! Yesterday at church, my pastor’s message was on approval addicts. I would have called it the narcissism’s spectrum but he made his point. It’s spot on with what we all deal with on a regular basis. Afterwards, I spoke with a gal that has a difficult narcissistic mother like mine. She is close to 60 now and she said that t his past year after her mom sold her childhood home and didn’t share any of the proceeds from the sale, she was done seeking validation. It made me wonder, will I ever have that moment with my NM. My friend still talks to her mom but very infrequently. I would say she is low contact. Her NM is now living with her GC sister and I’m sure she is reaping the benefits financially from the recent sale of that home. However, her sister needs breaks from her mom as well. Anyway, she told me that I just need to pray each time I have to encounter a difficult mom or sibling and pray that God leads you in your words and actions. The hard thing is reminding myself of that. Anyway, great post again!


    • ahh, so you’ve done that mental evaluation on whether or not you’re able to answer as the phone rings too, eh? It’s crazy.. it just shouldn’t be!

      I’m sorry, Kelly. It’s so painful when things are going fine then turn on a dime, especially when the turn is such a dramatic one.

      It’s very invalidating! & I really don’t think anyone who isn’t at least a little NPD will ever understand why it’s OK for them to tell us how we failed them, yet it’s not OK for us to do the same.

      Your friend is absolutely right. Prayer is the best thing you can do. I usually just ask God to help me do & say what I need to before dealing with my parents or anyone who is difficult. It does help!

      Thank you!! xoxo


      • Kelly

        Another issue I have is when my NM makes me seem so broken when I’m sick or things just are not going well. I get life sucks at times but when a person talks to you like you’re so broken and that’s why these things happen, is wrong too. The last time I talked to her, she made this statement that my GC sis feels so targeted right now. I’m like, “well, it’s not by me, I have not talked to her in three years!”. Again, she was placing blame on me for my GC’s ills of life. I would not have any of that blame placed on me. Now I can speak up for myself. A long time ago, I would have internalized that she was blaming me for my sister’s unhappiness. Sorry, she’s made her bed and NM helped her make it too. if you can’t take responsibility for your own life, no one in life will take it either. My NM and enabling father raised a girl to be disabled in life. They never made my sister take responsibility. If life got tough, they let her quit that job, or quit her marriage and let her be taken care of by them. Now she can’t function because my NM isn’t bailing her out anymore. Go figure why she can’t hang with life’s ills. Anyway, off my soap box! Happy Monday!


        • So somehow this is your fault that your sister can’t deal with life? Lord have mercy.. that makes NO sense!

          You’re right about that too- it’s wrong to talk to someone like they basically brought things on themselves. While that may be true sometimes, it isn’t always the case, & when it’s not, saying that sort of thing is very hurtful! My parents have done the same to me. Everything is my fault, it seems like, according to them. UGH!!!

          Hope you’re having a good Monday!! ((((hugs))))


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